Advisory Committee

Arama Kukutai (Chair)
Managing Director
Finistere Ventures
Adam Anders
Managing Director
Rabo Ventures
Sharon Berberich
Business Development /
Licensing Leader, Technology Licensing and Commercialization

Dow AgroSciences
Dan Broderick
President and Founder
VP, Capital formation & Entrepreneurship
James W. Budzynski
Managing Principal
MacroGain Partners
Jonathan Burbaum, Ph.D.
Program Director
Kirk Haney
President and Chief Exectuive Officer
SG Biofuels
Lynn Henderson
Founder and President
Henderson Communications, LLC.
Philippe Herve
Head of R&D Alliance Management
Bayer CropScience
Philippe de Lapérouse
Director, Global Food and Agribusiness Practice
HighQuest Partners
Rob Leclerc, PhD
CEO & Co-Founder
Mark Matlock
Senior Vice President Research Division
Archer Daniels Midland Company
Ronald L. Meeusen, Ph.D.
Managing Partner
Cultivian Ventures, LLP
Robert Morris
AndMore Associates, LLC
Mat Müller, Ph.D
Ag Biotech Business Development
Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.
Derek Norman, Ph.D
Investment Manager
Syngenta Ventures
Andreas Renz, Ph.D
Sr. Manager Technology Acquisition, Americas
BASF Plant Science
David R. Russell, Ph.D.
Director of Prospecting
Monsanto Company
Jim Schultz
CEO and Founder
Open Prairie Ventures, Inc.


Arama Kukutai (Chair)
Managing Director , Finistere Ventures

Arama Kukutai joined Finistere in March 2005 as a Managing Director, from a successful career in agribusiness, investing and international trade. Prior to joining Finistere, he served as Regional Director - North America for the New Zealand government's Trade Development agency in North America establishing multiple pathways for New Zealand businesses to access this key market. Mr. Kukutai has had an active career in investment, both in commercial banking at Westpac Banking Corporation, and as a Director of PKW Incorporation, a successful $300M agribusiness and diversified investment entity involved in agriculture, aquaculture and property development with activities in New Zealand, Asia and Australia. He served as Chairman of PKW Farms, a large pastoral Dairy agribusiness in New Zealand. Mr. Kukutai serves on the boards of Hawaii BioEnergy LLC, and Somark Innovations, Inc. He is also Chairman of the Larta Institute's advisory board for the USDA Commercialization program for SBIR grantee companies - see more at He has lived and worked internationally for much of his career and brings a strong agricultural business focus to Finistere Venture's activities. Mr. Kukutai is responsible for agricultural technology and green energy portfolio investments and is a member of Finistere's Investment Committee.
Ronald L. Meeusen, Ph.D.
Managing Partner, Cultivian Ventures, LL

Ron has 26 years of experience in bringing new technologies and products to market. During this time he has led research and development for major corporations in agricultural chemicals, field crop and vegetable genetics and breeding, animal health, novel foods and industrial materials. His successful projects include planning and conducting the world's first field trial of a genetically engineered crop trait in 1986, development and launch of one of the first insect and herbicide resistant corn hybrids in 1996, introduction of a trans-fat free canola oil, and development of dozens of new varieties of field and vegetable crops on three continents. Ron has been a frequent speaker at conferences, a consultant to Federal policy on regulatory issues, and active in industry trade groups on key issues such as European acceptance of new food technologies.

Prior to forming MidPoint Ron spent two years as an executive-on-loan writing an economic development plan which the State of Indiana adopted for its food and agricultural sectors. During the previous six years as Global Leader of Biotechnology at Dow AgroSciences, Ron led the expansion of its biotechnology research and development program.

In earlier assignments Ron:
  • Spent three years helping Seminis Vegetable Seeds integrate their three acquisitions into the world's largest vegetable seed business.
  • Designed and led the Sandoz Seeds biotechnology programs in Palo Alto, California and Northrup King, Minnesota.
  • Conducted a 1980 technology assessment which led the Rohm & Haas Company to build one of the earliest agrobiotechnology programs, which Ron later ran.
Ron holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in plant cell biology, and a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in plant physiology.
Sharon Berberich
Business Development/Licensing Leader, Technology Licensing and Commercialization, Dow AgroSciences

Sharon graduated with a B.S. in Agriculture and Biochemistry from the University of Missouri, Columbia. After working a few years in academia, Sharon joined Monsanto Company where she held positions in R&D (both pharmaceutical and plant biotechnology), Regulatory Science/Affairs, Licensing/Mergers & Acquisitions, Specialty/New Crops, Field Operations and other crop-focused businesses. After leaving Monsanto, Sharon established a consulting business, then joined a start-up company, Chlorogen Inc., as the VP of Business Development. Subsequently she served as the Director of International Programs and Assistant Director of Technology Management at The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Sharon joined Dow AgroSciences in June 2008 to jump start an Agronomic Traits pipeline (as Early Stage Commercial Assessment Leader) and to lead out-licensing efforts related to Dow AgroSciences proprietary technologies - among those technologies is the EXZACT™ Precision Technology (zinc fingers in plants) Her current role at Dow AgroSciences is to lead technology transactions across the business, including biotechnology traits & enabling technologies, devices/algorithms, chemical compounds/formulations, bioprocess R&D, IT and data management technology.
Kirk Haney
President and CEO, SG Biofuels, Inc.

Kirk Haney is the CEO of SG Biofuels, Inc., a sustainable plant oil company with operations in San Diego, CA and Latin America. SG Biofuels specializes in the development of Jatropha as a low cost, sustainably produced oil that can be used for a variety of bio-based materials including biodiesel and feedstock substitutes for the petrochemical and jet fuel industries. Kirk has a successful track record developing sustainable, for profit projects, and extensive experience in both established and start-up companies.

As President of Green Millennium, Kirk raised over $100M in private equity and successfully built and scaled a sustainable forestry company from start-up to over 100 employees. Kirk's role consisted of managing all aspects of the business including strategy, operations and finance. Green Millennium's mission is to initiate and manage precious wood reforestation programs in Central America. Thousands of hectares of land that were devastated by years of deforestation have been reclaimed by Green Millennium and returned to their original forested state.

Kirk has held senior and executive management positions for 3Com Corporation, ArrowPoint Communications (acquired by Cisco Systems), Cisco Systems and Green Millennium, Ltd. At ArrowPoint, he held general management responsibility for the Western area. In this role, Kirk built and led an organization that grew revenue from $0 to an $80 million run-rate. This was critical for ArrowPoint's ability to go public in March of 2000 and Cisco's $5.9 billion acquisition. In addition to leading several of Cisco's enterprise and advanced technology organizations, Kirk was instrumental in creating Cisco's global security sales strategy, which resulted in Cisco surpassing $1 billion in security sales. Kirk was also an advisor to Cisco's Corporate Business Development team on various investment and acquisition candidates.

Kirk serves on the board of SG Biofuels, is Chairman of the Board of Cloud Break Advisors, Inc., a Latin American investment firm and he is Chairman of the Board of Green Millennium, Ltd., a sustainable forestry company. He also is a member of the board of advisors for the Inter-American Dialogue. Kirk holds an MBA from Pepperdine University and is fluent in Spanish and German.
Mark Matlock
Senior Vice President Research Division, Archer Daniels Midland Company

Mark Matlock joined Archer Daniels Midland Company in 1980. Mark Matlock was appointed Senior Vice President-Research Division where he directs food ingredient research. Mark Matlock holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Millikin University and a Master's of Science degree in polymer chemistry from the University of Akron. Prior to his current appointment, Mark Matlock served as an Analytical Chemist, Manager-Process Development, Laboratory Manager-ADM BioProducts and Director-Food Applications. Mark Matlock is author or co-author of nine U.S. patents, two of which relate to an analytical instrument (OSI) that measures the oxidative stability of vegetable oils. He has conducted research that has led to new soy protein isolates for ADM. He has managed research efforts that led the introduction of trans free fats for margarines and shortenings via a novel enzymatic rearrangement technology. In addition, Mark Matlock was elected president of the American Oil Chemists' Society for 2003-2004 and in 2007 was honored as an AOCS Fellow.
Derek Norman, Ph.D.
Investment Manager, Syngenta Ventures

Derek Norman is an Investment Manager with Syngenta Ventures, the corporate venture capital group of Syngenta. Syngenta Ventures is responsible for investing in and managing a portfolio of companies that can provide strategic value and financial returns for Syngenta. Prior to joining Syngenta Ventures, Derek was an Associate at Hatteras Venture Partners, a life science-focused venture capital firm with $120 million under management. Derek also spent three years at Dean & Co., a strategy consulting firm located in Washington, D.C.

Derek received a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from Harvard University. There, his thesis work focused on using chemistry, biochemistry and protein crystallography to study the chemical mechanism of DNA repair processes. Derek received a B.S. in Chemistry from Stanford University.
Dr. Wan Abdul Rahaman Wan Yaacob
Chief Operating Officer, Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation

Dr. Wan Abdul Rahaman bin Wan Yaacob is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Malysian Biotechnology Corporation. In this capacity, he is a leader in spearheading the Malaysian government's mission to identify value propositions in both R&D and commerce as well as to support these ventures with financial assistance and developmental services. He has spent a substantial part of his career leading rubber organizations including his position as Deputy Director General of the Malaysian Rubber Board.

Dr. Wan Abdul Rahaman started his career as Assistant Rubber Instructor in 1972 with the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia after obtaining his Diploma in Agriculture from the Agriculture College, Serdang. He then moved on to the post of Assistant Research Officer in 1975, Research Officer in mid-1980's and Head, Biotechnology Division in 1989. During this period, he gained his B.Sc. (Plant Science) from the University of California, Davis; a M.Sc.(Horticulture/Biochem Genetics) and a PH.D. (Horticulture/Biochem Genetics) from Kansas State University.

Dr. Wan Abdul Rahaman has represented the country in numerous international forums and meetings related to the rubber industry and have presented papers at scientific conferences and seminars both locally and internationally.He is recognised both internationally and locally as one of the leading authorities on biotechnology. This reputation has been built by his research achievements through his 25 scientific papers in the field of biotechnology, biotechnology policies and management as authors and co-authors.

For his services to the industry, Dr. Wan Rahaman has been awarded various honors both at home and abroad, namely Gama Sigma Delta, USA (1978), Pi Alpha Xi, USA (1980), gold Medal MRRDB (1986), Best paper Award JNRR (1999) and Gold Medal Award: Salon International Des Inventions Geneve (1998). For his contribution to the country he was awarded the Johan Mangku Negara (JMN) in conjunction with the Official Birthday Celebration of the Yang Dipertuan Agong on 2 June, 2001.
Damien Perriman
VP of Business Development, Verdezyne

Lynn Henderson
Founder and President, Henderson Communications, LLC.

Lynn Henderson is founder and President of Henderson Communications L.L.C., St. Louis, MO, an organization specializing in communications to the agribusiness industry. The firm's products include Agri Marketing magazine, its accompanying website, Agri Marketing Weekly e-newsletter,, and other services.

Prior to forming Henderson Communications, he was President and CEO of Doane Agricultural Services Co., St. Louis, MO, a leading agricultural communications firm. Its products included Agri Marketing, AgProfessional, and Ag Lender magazines, the "AgriTalk" radio program, "Doane's Agricultural Report" newsletter and economic advisory services, and their accompanying websites.

Henderson is on the Board of Directors of the National 4-H Council, Agriculture Council of America, World Agricultural Forum, and the American Business Media's Agri-Council. He is a member of the Farm Foundation, the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), and the St. Louis Agribusiness Club.

He has been active in the American Bankers Association (ABA), the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA), the Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) program, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC).

He is a past national President of the NAMA and was the recipient of the R.C. Ferguson award that honors distinguished service to the agricultural industry. He also is the recipient of ASFRMA, ARA and Mid America CropLife Association's outstanding communicator awards. He has served on the Board of Directors of the NAICC, the national FFA Sponsors Board, and the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC).

Before joining Doane, he was Vice President of Century Communications where he was Publisher of Agri Marketing and AgriFinance magazines. He began his career as Communications Manager for the ACCO SEED Company, Belmond, IA. Henderson received his B.S. in Agricultural Communications from Iowa State University.
Daniel J. Broderick
President and Founder, GAIN

Mr. Broderick, Sr. Fellow of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at BioGenerator, is responsible for managing company formation and investment analysis. In this capacity, Mr. Broderick is responsible for creating and initiating investment opportunities, structuring and negotiating transactions, serving on the board of directors of the portfolio companies, working with portfolio company management teams to help create value, and arranging for follow on financings. Mr. Broderick is also a Venture Partner at Prolog Ventures and is the Founder and President of the Global Agtech Investors Network, a not for profit corporation dedicated to supporting capital formation and innovation in agtech companies.

Mr. Broderick has over 24 years of experience in the life sciences and venture capital industry. Prior to joining BioGenerator in 2009 he was a Managing Director at Prolog Ventures in St. Louis. Prior to that Mr. Broderick spent 7 years with Mason Wells Biomedical Fund as a Managing Director where he was responsible for all aspects of investment activities. While at Mason Wells, Mr. Broderick served as a member of the Board of Directors of several portfolio companies including Gala Biotech, Mezzia, OpGen, Deltanoid Pharmaceuticals and ZyStor Therapeutics.

Mr. Broderick is actively involved in the venture capital community on a regional and national level. He served on the Board of Directors of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). He has testified before the U.S. Congress on behalf of the NVCA; works on a number of NVCA committees, and chaired the Research Committee. Mr. Broderick received a Bachelors Degree in Biology from Iowa State University in 1982. He has completed some graduate course work in Finance, Accounting and Marketing at Winona State University.
Robert Morris
Principal, AndMore Associates, LLC

Bob Morris runs AndMore Associates, LLC, an independent global business development and consulting firm focused on the nexus of agriculture, energy, and the environment, and building partnerships. Under Bob's leadership, AndMore Associates identifies, promotes, and implements business development, growth, innovation, and profit improvement initiatives. Current clients include the Larta Institute and other organizations in the agriculture, cleantech, and energy sectors.

As immediate past president of The Sulphur Institute (TSI), Bob led the successful promotion and growth of sulphur as a viable investment and commercial product in agricultural and industrial markets worldwide. The partnerships he built with the Chinese industry and government helped to stimulate growth of Chinese sulphur imports from zero to nearly ten million tons, now more than a one billion dollar market. In India, the initiatives he created and executed with the Indian government and key industry stakeholders, built the platform for commercial development of a two million ton sulphur fertilizer market, and the potential to help hundreds of thousands of small-scale farmers to improve and increase their crop production.

With a B.S. in plant science from Rutgers University and an M.S. in agronomy from Pennsylvania State University, Mr. Morris currently serves on the Advisory Council, Center of Plant Nutrients Management, Jaipuria Institute of Management, India; Panel of Experts of TechCast LLC; the Industry Advisory Board, Master of Business and Science, Rutgers University; the Wilson Council, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the steering committee of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Clean Economy Network.
Mat Müller, Ph.D.
Ag Biotech Business Development, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.

Mat Müller is Director of Ag Biotech Business Development at Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business. The focus of the Ag Biotech BD group is on acquisition and integration of technology into DuPont's Ag biotech portfolio, the enablement and support of research scale, and on the leveraging of technology developed by DuPont scientists into adjacent spaces.

Mat has previously occupied a variety of functions within Pioneer, including as a research scientist, principal investigator and operations manager, before taking on strategic and development responsibilities in the business development group and the Global Product Strategy team. Mat has also served in various capacities for Verdia, Inc., Maxygen, Inc., the University of California, and the Swiss National Foundation for Scientific research. Mat's education background includes a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Lausanne, and an MBA from California State University at Hayward. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles and several patents.
Philippe de Lapérouse
Director, Global Food and Agribusiness Practice, HighQuest Partners

Philippe de Lapérouse is Director of HighQuest Partners’ Global Food and Agribusiness Practice and St. Louis, Missouri office. He has more than 20 years experience in senior leadership positions with global companies in the agro-industrial and value-added food chain as well as in private equity investing. Prior to joining High Quest Partners, Mr. de Lapérouse was a Principal at Vanikoro Advisory LLC where he advised clients on their financial and global expansion strategies.

Previously, as Director of Business Development for Bunge North America, Inc., the North American operating arm of Bunge Limited (NYSE: BG), he was responsible for the company’s efforts to expand its industrial operations into Mexico and the Caribbean Basin, biotech and e-commerce initiatives and public relations/corporate communications (before and after Bunge’s successful IPO in 2001). Mr. de Lapérouse was also associated with the Fund for Large Enterprises in Russia (FLER), a private equity fund investing in Russian enterprises and joint ventures with Western companies, where he was responsible for the firm’s flagship Moscow office and overseeing investment activity, and Ralston Purina International (industrial and consumer packaged goods), where he held senior line management positions in both the United States and Europe.

Mr. de Lapérouse received an M.B.A. degree from The Darden School of Business at The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia and a B.A. degree from Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut.
David R. Russell, Ph.D.
Director of Prospecting, Monsanto Company

Dr. Russell currently leads Monsanto’s Biotechnology Prospecting Team. The Prospecting Team continuously looks for innovative technologies that will help build, extend, and support the Monsanto technology portfolio.

From 1999 to 2007 Dr. Russell worked with Renessen LLC as V.P. of Product Development & Technology where he was responsible for leading the technology, product development and regulatory science functions for Renessen. From 1987 to 1999 he was with Agracetus, Inc. in R&D, and Project Leadership positions. Dr. Russell received his Ph.D. from Rice University in microbial gene expression, and did a NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University.
Andreas Renz, Ph.D.
Sr. Manager Technology Acquisition, Americas, BASF Plant Science

Andy has 18 years experience in plant biotechnology and 9 years experience in international technology scouting and acquisition. He studied biology and received his PhD from the University of Bayreuth in plant biochemistry and molecular biology. He was PostDoc in Lothar Willimitzer's lab at the Max-Planck-Institute in Potsdam and joined BASF in 1999, where he worked on the production of polyunsaturated fatty acids in oilseeds. Since 2003 he works in the field of technology scouting and research collaborations at BASF Plant Science. He is responsible for several international research programs, bilateral collaborations and licenses in Europe, Asia and Americas. He established international technology scouting teams and is experienced to identify those technologies that complement BASF's research platform. Andy has an excellent overview about industry's needs and markets - to identify tomorrows' ag technologies.
J.M. "Jim" Schultz
Managing Partner/Founder, Open Prairie Ventures, Inc.

Jim Schultz is a fifth-generation agriculture entrepreneur who has both a passion and understanding for building companies from the ground-up, many experiences from lessons learned with his family’s international agri-business. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Jim worked with the Brazilian unit of the family soybean business, the J.M. Schultz Seed Company – a global seed and chemical business with operations in North and South America. As a contrarian investor, he purchased and subsequently managed over 13,000 acres of Midwest farmland which he acquired during the late 1980’s. He has carried those lessons with him throughout his thirty year career as an adviser and investor.

Today, he is Managing Partner of Open Prairie Ventures and has been responsible for the launch of two funds which invested in agriculture technology companies with disruptive technologies. In 1999, Jim founded Open Prairie Ventures I, a $40 million fund focused on Midwest seed and early-stage technology opportunities. In 2008, he launched Open Prairie Ventures II, a $30 million fund focused on agriculture and technology companies. In addition, he added a third fund under management to Open Prairie in 2012 with the addition of SWMF Life Science Fund – a $65 million early stage fund.
Philippe Herve
Head of R&D Alliance Management , Bayer CropScience

Philippe Herve is Head of R&D Alliance Management at Bayer CropScience, in charge of managing partnerships worldwide across the range of expertise in agriculture. Prior to that role, he has been in charge of Product Research for Rice and Head of Emerging Research and Trait Research APAC region for Bayer CropScience for the last 3 years. Philippe Herve received his Ph.D. in biotechnology in Toulouse, France, with expertise in both chemistry and plant biology. He has more than 15 years of experience in Ag-industry, working across early stage company, international research organizations and multi-national companies in Europe, Asia and USA and has been in charge of international projects and establishing partnerships across a range of projects.
Adam Anders
Managing Director, Rabo Ventures

Adam is the Managing Director of Rabo Ventures. Rabo Ventures is a venture capital fund dedicated to investing in innovative, growth companies across the food and agriculture value chain. Rabo Ventures looks to support its portfolio companies by leveraging the contacts, knowledge and financial strength of Rabobank. Rabobank is a +EUR 600bln leading international bank to the food and agribusiness sectors. Adam has over 14 years private equity and venture capital experience, first as a senior operational executive for several private equity funded businesses and later as an investor. Adam is passionate about building great businesses, supporting leading management teams and making the food and agriculture sector more sustainable. Earlier in his career Adam worked as a management consultant with Bain & Co and as a commercial lawyer. Adam holds an MBA degree from Cambridge University, England and a Bachelors Degree in Law and a Bachelors Degree in Commerce from the University of Adelaide, Australia.
Jonathan Burbaum, Ph.D.
Program Director, ARPA-E

Jonathan Burbaum’s focus at ARPA-E is in advanced biotechnology applications for biofuels and the production of biologically-based chemical feedstocks.

Prior to joining ARPA-E, Burbaum was a San Diego-based biotechnology consultant focusing on realizing value from novel technologies, products, and commercial strategies in the life sciences. He is the founder of two companies, Azure Therapeutics and Gnosys Consulting, and has worked extensively for corporate, venture, and government clients. Before entering consulting, he played seminal roles with two venture-backed startup companies, Pharmacopeia (from inception, through IPO and commercial launch) and ActivX Biosciences (now a division of Kyorin Pharmaceuticals). He began his industrial career at the Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, N.J. in 1991.

Burbaum received his B.S. in Chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1981, and his Ph. D. from Harvard University - where he worked for Jeremy R. Knowles on the energetics of enzymatic catalysis - in 1988. From 1988 to 1991, Burbaum conducted post-doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Paul Schimmel, focusing on protein structure, function and folding. He received his M.B.A. from the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego in 2009.
James W. Budzynski
Managing Principal, MacroGain Partners

Dr. Jim Budzynski is the Managing Principal of MacroGain Partners, a Carmel, Indiana firm focused on structuring venture and private equity investments in companies in the agricultural, food, and green energy industries and providing related strategic planning and management consulting services.

Jim is also a Venture Partner with ag-tech venture capital firm Open Prairie Ventures, one of the nation's premier venture capital firms investing in ag-tech. He also currently serves as Chief Technology Officer and VP of Business Development for NewLeaf Symbiotics, an ag biologics company based in St. Louis, Missouri.

He has provided strategic counsel to dozens of agribusinesses, from start-ups to major multinationals, and frequently has provided strategic technology and market sector assessments to both private equity and venture capital investors. He is a well-known strategic thinker in the agri-business sector and has published numerous articles and delivered keynote speeches at leading conferences nationwide.

Jim grew up working in an agribusiness in a farming community and has over 30 years of direct agrifood and related markets experience; he holds a B.S. in Agronomy from Purdue University and earned his M.S and Ph.D. in Soil Chemistry from the University of Arizona.

Jim and his wife Carol live in Carmel, Indiana and their daughter Nicole recently graduated from Indiana University and is a management consultant in Chicago.

Rob Leclerc, PhD
CEO & Co-Founder, AgFunder

Rob is an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and founder of BabbleFlix. He has over 15 years of qualitative and quantitative experience as a scientist and engineer, and three years in the Agriculture sector.

Rob has been published in the Harvard Business Review, Financial Post and Seeking Alpha, and twice in Nature journals. He has five degrees, spanning Philosophy, Computer Science, and Computational Biology, including a PhD from Yale University.